The Memory of Babel, the third book in Christelle Dabos’ “The Mirror Visitor” Quartet, published by Europa, delves deeper into the secrets behind the creation of the world her characters inhabit. While the first two books, A Winter’s Promise and The Missing of Clairdelune, were revealing in that we learned about the world, the stories that take place in it, and met the main characters, this book takes us further into the history and mystery of the planet and its creation.
The book opens with the protagonist Ophelia back on her home Ark of Anima. After the events at the end of the last volume, her husband Thorn escaping from prison and their meeting with the mysterious God who had been threatening Ophelia, she had been whisked back home by her family.
Here she discovers somebody has been directing each of the Arks to erase, or whitewash out less savoury parts of history. The museum she used to work at has been emptied of all the significant historical artifacts it used to contain. The word from the ruling council is people don’t need any reminders of their violent past, and should be focused on the present only.
As she had discovered it was God who had erased the memories of the Family Spirits who rule each Ark, she concludes it must be his, or her, hand behind this latest attempt to erase memories. So when friends from The Pole show up offering her a way to sneak off her Ark and travel anywhere she wants she leaps at the chance. Thanks to an ancient post card her great uncle passed on to her she believes many of the answers to her questions can be found on the Ark named Babel.
If she had thought life on her home Ark was regulated, it’s nothing compared to how closely the activities of those living on Babel are monitored. Not only are people’s movements closely observed but words are proscribed. You can’t say anything which in any way could be related to armed conflict or violence without being threatened or locked up.
In her attempts to discover more about God Ophelia puts herself in some danger. However she also reconnects with her husband. Thorn had reached the same conclusion as her and has managed to find a position allowing him to discover more about God and the mysterious Other who God is chasing after.
As in the previous two books in the series Dabos not only continues to develop the characters we are familiar with from earlier instalments, but introduces new and fascinating people as well. As we learn more about Babel in particular, we also find out more about how the world was split into various Arks and about the war which precipitated the rupture and all of God’s actions.
What makes these books so wonderful to read is Dabos’ ability to combine action with creating wonderfully defined characters. As we follow Ophelia around this new Ark we meet more and more interesting people. We also watch as how her relationship with Thorn continues to develop. Not only are they united by a shared goal they have grown to genuinely love each other.
The Memory of Babel continues the story of Ophelia and her quest to discover the truth behind her own history and the history of her world. Somehow the two are interconnected. For it was her ability to travel through mirrors that allowed the mysterious Other to enter her world, and cause God to take such a keen interest in her. As it was also God who created the world and the family spirits, it would Ophelia’s fate and that of the world are irrevocably linked.
The Memory of Babel by Christelle Dabos is a wonderful read and sets the stage for what promises to be an exciting conclusion in the the final chapter of “The Mirror Visitor Quartet”.